Frank Work, Information and Privacy Commissioner, publicly released his report on an investigation regarding the Alberta Government’s 2002 Corporate Employee Survey.
The Alberta Government conducts a government-wide employee survey on an annual basis. A private sector company (“the Contractor”) was contracted to design the 2002 survey questionnaire; interview the survey participants; collect and analyze the survey results; and report the survey results to the Alberta Government and to the departments.
A total of 7,068 provincial government employees were invited to participate in the 2002 survey. Participation in the survey was on a voluntary basis.
Survey participants were asked to rate their level of satisfaction or agreement with a set of statements and questions. The survey also contained an open- ended question in which the survey participants’ responses were recorded “verbatim”. The Contractor was required to edit the verbatim responses and remove personal identifiers before releasing verbatim responses to the departments.
The Commissioner had received information that claimed the verbatim responses contained sufficient details that would enable departments to identify specific employees. The investigation reviewed 294 pages of edited verbatim responses and found no evidence that these responses would be linked to specific individuals. The investigation concludes the edited verbatim responses did not contain “personal information” and the privacy provisions set out in Part 2 of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act did not apply to the information.